Ralph Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN tackles an issue that frankly is so huge and complex that you wouldn't think it could be captured in a single novel. However, Ralph Ellison pulls off the nearly impossible. Unlike other stories about the suppression/oppression of African-Americans which usually depict the protagonist as a victim of circumstance who is viewed as an enemy of the white people (read NATIVE SON), Ellison depicts the more real and punishing truth. That truth is that the African-American is hardly viewed at all by the white race. The African-American is unseen, his/her needs not addressed, his/her existence not acknowledged. This is a sentiment (if it can be called that) which is echoed in King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail".
Ellison's nameless and blameless protagonist isn't viewed as a person by anyone. He is seen as a source of entertainment, or a source of athleticism, or a case to be tended to... anything except a human being. Ellison's story is devestating, and yet not fatalistic. The protagonist's continuing sense of decency, self-assertion (in his own way) and humanity is not squelched, even at the end. The fact that he bothers to tell his story indicates a hope for an audience to his drama. Perhaps there is hope for all of us.